Exton Towards Old Winchester Hill (Roman Road Survey)
Excavations beside r Meon
LIDAR Map of Exton and the Roman Grid
A reason this direct route Winchester to Chichester was sought was because of the settlement known from Roman sources as CLAUDENTUM. At present some people think it is located in Southampton, but if there was a direct Roman Road linking Winchester and Chichester then from the mileages quoted it would be near the river at Exton.
The above image of a grid system was obtained from LIDAR. Very prominent are the Principal N - S and E - W grid lines. Both form light lines bounded by Dark line, for the N - S the Dark Lines are ~ 10m apart, and these lines are shown. Both of these can be seen on the ground. The E - W becomes a huge causeway west of the A32 until the old course of the river Meon - and probably continued as a causeway right across the flood plain to the west of A32, where intermittent LIDAR marks are shown.
Roman settlements generally have a grid system, with Principal Streets, and lesser streets. Three weaker E - W grid lines can be seen on the LIDAR, shown as single lines. Crossing this grid obliquely are our three Roman Road lanes. The grid lines and Roman Road lanes also have air photo lines following them - discussed in the first Report above.
We are excavating where the Northern Roman lane crosses a Street Grid. So far the Street Grid seems to be rammed chalk 25cms above the natural chalk, with the Roman lane stonework common to the Street Grid's. We have found these at considerable depth. For the August 2018 Bank Holiday dig we moved the trenches nearer the flood plain so the depth of soil will be reduced, and uncovered a length of the street grid and located its northern edge - described below. This will be continued over the May and August 2019 Bank Holiday digs.
In September we found a substantial Roman pottery scatter mainly north of the Principal E - W Grid, and west of the Principal N - S Grid line (see above map). It appears that Shavards Lane is at right angles to the Roman lanes - and is probably Roman. This is the reason for saying some Roman development may follow the Roman Road Lanes, with Shavards Lane an early Grid Line.
The above finds are throughout the subsoil - one only expects Roman finds to be near the subsoil surface. Thus the whole of this layer has been up in Roman times. Indeed Layer 3 below was an especially laid layer of stones containing the Roman finds shown.
There was then a layer of subsoil without stones which contained 1 Roman shard:
There was then a layer of stones containing 7 red Roman shards on top of the natural chalk:
The start of Trench 6 - the completed trench is the first photo above
Tent keeping us cool in very hot weather
In August we sought the northern end of this street grid in Trench 3, finding it at 71cms below ground surface. In Trenches 4 & 5 it appeared as rammed chalk with a few finds in it, in Trench 3 it was chalk stones with quite a lot of Roman pottery rammed together. It appears to end by the north of the Trench 3, but we will have to get deeper for the exact position. This will be done in the May - August 2019 Bank Holiday Digs, when we will also explore how the Roman Road is made as it approaches the Street Grid.
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